The Epic Story of Naked Ken

I don't remember how it all got started. Maybe one day I just opened up my underwear drawer and he was there waiting for me, bereft of any underwear of his own. Naked Ken made countless appearances throughout our apartment that year; I recall threading him through the handle of the milk jug for one of my roommates to find. He was such a part of the gang that we even brought him with us on a road trip to Pittsburgh. It was only after we drove away from the nice lady giving us directions that Lisa realized she'd been absentmindedly playing with him as she listened from the backseat. 

When Ben and I got married and set out for California, Lisa's parting gift was our very own Naked Ken. She even doctored up the box to make it just as official as Working Girl Barbie and Surfer Ken. The Naked Ken tradition continued with gusto in our seminary apartment. One Christmas he even made a special appearance as the angel atop our tree. Unfortunately, we failed to discreetly remove him when two of the seminary deans showed up unexpectedly in our living room one night. (Long story.) I cannot even imagine what they said to one another after they left. (She seemed like such a nice girl...)

Naked Ken continued to make appearances in the ensuing years. Sometimes he'd be forgotten in a drawer, but sure enough he would turn up again, thoughtfully displayed for maximum comedic delight. Because I will tell you, happening upon a denuded plastic man hanging out in the toothbrush cup is always funny. Always

A few years ago - around the time Juliette was getting old enough to walk and talk and find it a little odd that her parents played a year-round R-rated variation of the Elf on the Shelf - I reluctantly thought it was time to shut it down. Not that there is anything terribly inappropriate about it, really. It's just that you can't control how or when a three-year-old might decide to reveal the charming - okay, oddball -family secrets. I couldn't bring myself to put clothes on him; it would have seemed too cruel a fate for good old Naked Ken. I simply hid him well enough that he wouldn't be found.

The joke was completely and utterly on me. 

You see, we have these two small children. And they like to play with Barbies a lot. And thus far Genevieve's practice of playing with Barbies is to systematically remove all their clothes and leave them all over the house. There are naked dolls everywhere, all the time. 

This is the scene in the living room, this very moment:

Don't worry - that isn't Naked Ken missing a leg. That's One-Legged Ken. He just happens to be naked at the moment. I realize this could be confusing, but even when other Kens are naked, they do not automatically become Naked Ken. I'm pretty sure you have to have spent years doing hard time in the refrigerator door waiting for someone to dig you out from beneath the Stadium Mustard before you can truly be Naked Ken. 

At least the fairies have built-in underwear, right?

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